storage

How to create a folder in Windows Phone 8.1 Pictures Library (and save/read files into/from it)

Some of you might have noticed that UniShare has its own folder in your devices picture library. Also some other apps like WhatsApp or Tweetium have it. The advantages of your app’s own folder are clear:

  • easier to get images into your app
  • user can always reflect which pictures come from your app
  • another presence of your app within the OS
  • higher remember rate for your app at the user site (which leads to more frequent usage of your app)

This post will show you how easy it is to generate a folder into the Pictures Library as well as save and read files into/from this folder.

Preparation

First, you need to add this using statements to your app:

using Windows.Storage;
using Windows.Storage.Streams;
using Windows.UI.Xaml.Media;
using Windows.UI.Xaml.Media.Imaging;

Next, add the Picture Library capabilities to your app’s Package.appmanifest.

image

If you have a 8.1 Silverlight app, you need to add it to both the Package.appmanifest as well as the WMAppManifest.xml:

image

Then we are already able to generate our folder with this single line of code (counts for both Silverlight and Runtime apps):

StorageFolder appFolder= await KnownFolders.PicturesLibrary.CreateFolderAsync("myCustomAppFolder", CreationCollisionOption.OpenIfExists);

You should always use the CreateFolderAsync method together with the CollisionOption ‘OpenIfExists’. This way, your app will open it every time you are going to save a file, but creates the folder if it does not exist yet. If you now go to your pictures library, you will not see your folder yet, although it is there (use a File Manager app to check it if you want). Folders do only get populated when they have content. This is what the next step is about.

Save an image file

Saving an image is also pretty straight forward. First we are generating a StorageFile within our folder:

StorageFile myfile= await appFolder.CreateFileAsync("myfile.jpg", CreationCollisionOption.ReplaceExisting);

This generates a File Container that we can write our image to. To save the image we are going to asynchronously write the Stream of our image into it:

//asuming we have an Image control, replace this with your local code
var img = myImage.Source as WriteableBitmap;
//get fresh drawn image 
img.Invalidate();

using (Stream stream = await myfile.OpenStreamForWriteAsync())
{
   img.SaveJpeg(stream, img.PixelWidth, img.PixelHeight, 0, 100);
}

This code works for both a Windows Phone 8.1 Silverlight and Runtime apps. If you now go to your Pictures library, you will see your app’s folder as well as your saved image. Pretty easy, right?

Read images from our app’s folder

Reading an image file is pretty easy as well. Here is the code:

//open the picture library
StorageFolder libfolder = KnownFolders.PicturesLibrary;
//get all folders first
IReadOnlyList<StorageFolder> folderList = await libfolder.GetFoldersAsync();
//select our app's folder
var appfolder = folderList.FirstOrDefault(f => f.Name.Contains("myCustomAppFolder"));
//get the desired file (assuming you know the file name)
StorageFile picfile = await appPicturesFolder.GetFileAsync("myfile.jpg");
//generate a stream from the StorageFile
var stream = await picfile.OpenAsync(FileAccessMode.Read);
//generate a new image and set the source to our stream
BitmapImage img = new BitmapImage();
img.SetSource(stream);

//todo: work with the image

To get our generated folder, we need to fetch a list of folders in the library using the StorageFolder.GetFoldersAsync() method. We then query this list for our app’s folder. If you want to get a list of all pictures in your folder, you can use the StorageFile.GetFilesAsync() method. What I have done above is to load our saved single file. Finally, I opened a stream from this file and assigned it to a new BitmapImage, which can be used in our app.

There are also a lot of other options one can do with these folders and files, this is a very common scenario.

As always, I hope this post is helpful for some of you.

Posted by msicc in Dev Stories, windev, 0 comments

Book review: iOS Development with Xamarin Cookbook (Dimitris Tavlikos)

I love to learn and expand my knowledge. Because of this, I was absolutely happy when I was asked for a book review about Dimitris’ iOS book.

The book is a huge collection of iOS recipes using Xamarin. The first three chapters are going deeply into the UI of an iOS application, looking on a lot (almost all) possible aspects of UI elements. What I like very much is that the author shows the code, usually with a step by step guide, and after that delivers a detailed explanation why something works in the way it does.

The next two chapters are all about creating and displaying data, files and sqlite, providing the same experience as the first chapters.

The sixth chapter is all about consuming services, such as web services, REST services or even WCF services (I wasn’t even aware of this being possible). Very good starting point for so many app ideas.

So far, the book shows already a lot of what we can do with Xamarin. But modern apps often contain media content: videos, photos, capturing media – this is what chapter 7 is all about.

Like all modern Smartphone operating systems, iOS provides some methods to let our apps interact with the OS. The 8th chapter is all about those interactions, like contacts, mail and more and has the matching real world scenarios.

The most usable apps use a device’s sensors, touch and gestures. Of course, with Apple being the leader in this space for a long time (we just need to be fair in this point), iOS has a lot of APIs for these. Chapter nine has some good recipes to help us with improving our app’s UX.

If your app needs location services and maps, chapter 10 is your friend. It shows you how to interact with Apple’s map services, add annotations and a lot more.

Users love when apps have some nice animations when something changes in an app. iOS provides a lot of options, and chapter 11 explains a lot about animations and drawing methods.

One of the most important parts when developing an app is lifecycle handling. As with any other OS, also iOS has its specific methods to handle the lifecycle. Background operations are part of this handling. In chapter 12, Dimitri tells us a lot about handling the states of an app as well as background operations.

Chapter 13 consists of tips and recipes for localization of an iOS app.

One of the most important steps when creating an iOS app is deploying the app. Apps should of course be tested on real devices, and this what chapter 14 is about – but not only. Also the required steps to prepare and app for submission as well as the submission to the store are explained.

The final chapter contains some additional recipes that can make your app more valuable like content sharing or text-to-speech.

Conclusion

I only began with Xamarin.iOS a few month ago. This book provides a great insight into development for iOS using the Xamarin IDE. As I said already, I like the approach of showing code first and then explaining what it does exactly and provide additional info if suitable. This book is absolutely worth every single cent if you want to start with iOS and Xamarin.

If you’re interested in the book, you’re just a click away: http://bit.ly/1tnxmGX

Note: This post was completely written on my phone. If you find typos, you can keep them ;-).

Posted by msicc in Dev Stories, iOS, Xamarin, 0 comments